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Season's gleamings
The price of gold soared close to $1,000 an ounce earlier this year. High quality jewelry pieces are pouring into the market as financial stress prompts some to clean out their safe deposit boxes. Some jewelry merchants see an opening and are trying to attract new customers. A banner outside the House of cartier men bracelet price replica Kahn Estate Jewelers on Walton Street proclaims: "Invest in Diamonds and Jewels." Arrows pointing down next to the words cartier men bracelet price fake Dow, Nasdaq and S tell shoppers what they already know: 2008 has been a miserable year for financial assets.
"Every time the market goes down, people call because they want to know what to do with their money," says Tobina Kahn, vice president of the family owned business.
It doesn't take a fortune to play in the market for previously owned jewelry because the retail markup is replica gold cartier bracelet much smaller than at stores selling new pieces, Kahn says. The House of Kahn recently featured a solid gold maple leaf necklace for $18,000, but it also was offering a 14 karat yellow gold ring with an 8 carat topaz for $300.
Chicagoan Kathleen Markiewicz, who has been steadily purchasing estate jewelry since 2006, says she is proof you don't have to work for a hedge fund to invest in gold and jewels. The retired bookkeeper doesn't consider anything that costs more than $25,000 and prefers pieces in the several thousand dollar range because they are more wearable.
"I have to have something besides stock investments, and I'm not going to put money in the mattress. Anything in good taste is a good investment."
For those who prefer to buy new jewelry, they should know that pieces with pedigrees from luxury jewelers such as Tiffany or Van Cleef Arpels will be worth about 5 percent to 10 percent more in the resale market than comparable baubles from less well known retailers, says Patty Hambrecht of Jaspar LLC, who advises private clients around the country about jewelry purchases.
But you shouldn't expect to be able to sell a new piece for what you paid for it in the short term. "It's like buying a car," Hambrecht says. "It depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot unfortunately."
The financial turmoil afflicting Wall Street doesn't seem to be hurting the auction business.
Just days after Lehman Brothers collapsed in late September, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago sold 352 of 416 lots of fine jewelry for a total of $1.2 million, nearly 60 percent higher than the $758,000 pre sale estimate. A platinum 18 karat gold ring with a 5.4 carat yellow diamond sold for $144,400, more than three times its pre sale estimate of $30,000 to $40,000.
"The major pieces sold extremely well," said Hindman, who owns the auction house. "People are interested in putting their money into something rare."
For Eve Alfille, who designs jewelry and has an eponymous gallery in Evanston, such calculations leave her cold.
The most important thing about a piece of jewelry is that you love it, she says. "It's an emotional investment, not a financial investment. If you are buying for investment, buy a mining stock."
Ready to rock?
Buying fine jewelry is a little more complicated than picking up a few more shares in a mutual fund. Here are some things to keep in mind, say jewelry experts, including Ellie Thompson, jewelry specialist for Hindman Auctioneers.
Know carats from karats. Carats measure the weight of a precious stone. Karats identify the portion of pure gold used copy cartier men bracelet price in an alloy.
Buy the best you can afford in any category, whether it's silver or sapphires.
Pieces of jewelry signed by the maker, whether it's a sterling silver bracelet by Georg Jensen or a gold and diamond brooch by Cartier, will be worth more than similar unsigned pieces.
Colored stones such as rubies, emeralds and sapphires are rarer than diamonds and usually hold their value better. Diamonds hold their value if they are larger than 3 carats or have strong distinctive colors such as pink or yellow.
Watches by top makers such as Patek Philippe and Rolex have increased in price over the years.
An appraisal of your piece's value, separate from one you receive from the seller, is advised in case a piece is lost or stolen. Appraisers charge a flat fee that may start around $75 for simple pieces and can reach more than $1,000 for large, complicated pieces. Some appraisers recommend getting a new appraisal every two years so you don't end up underinsured.
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